In the fictional universes of Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer Fantasy, Slaanesh (pronounced "sla-a-nesh") is one of the four major Chaos gods. Slaanesh is depicted, in both Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer Fantasy as the youngest of the four major gods. Like the other Chaos gods, Slaanesh grew from a single survivalist emotion: pleasure. Slaanesh is the Chaos god of excess, hedonism, pride, aestheticism, self indulgence, sensualism.
Slaanesh is described as taking many forms, be they female or male, even hermaphroditic or androgynous. As such, Slaanesh is also known as the Dark Prince or the Prince of Excess (by most), as well as She Who Thirsts or the Great Enemy (by the Eldar). In some cases, Slaanesh is said to be neither male or female, and yet both. Slaanesh will often take the form of whatever being is the most arousing to the mortal it blesses with its presence.
In any case, Slaanesh is always unnaturally beautiful, and irresistible to mortals when viewed by them. Slaanesh is generally regarded as being male, with the notable exception that the Eldar race of Warhammer 40,000 refers to Slaanesh as a female. Slaanesh is said to favor the number six. The correct adjective to indicate individuals and events related to this Chaos god is "Slaaneshi".
The original Realm of Chaos tome Slaves to Darkness (which remains the best and most comprehensive body of reference on the cult of Slaanesh) states that Slaanesh's real form is said to be a statuesque hermaphrodite with the right side of the body being female and the left side being male. Slaanesh is depicted as being endowed with a large mane of hair from which protrude a double set of bull-like horns (one larger and a smaller one inside the first pair).Of all the Gods of the Ruinous Powers, Slaanesh alone stands perfect - long-limbed, beautiful and elegant with hauntingly perfect features that no one, mortal or otherwise, could resist. Slaanesh is also said to wield at all time an arcane golden wand. The wand serves as receptacle of much of Slaanesh's awesome power and is the Chaos deity's greatest treasure.
Slaanesh is opposed by the Chaos God Khorne. Slaaneshi act inwardly by enjoying every experience and every act; whereas Khornates act outwardly through rage-fuelled violence. Khorne detests Slaanesh's decadence, where Slaanesh detests Khorne as crude and deeply unsophisticated. In both game settings, this relationship affects the armies dedicated to either god.
Cult of Slaanesh Edit
Slaanesh's followers seek pleasure in every experience, and quickly become inured to more mundane things, including sounds and colours; thus they frequently wear garish, brightly coloured armour, or clothing which is extravagantly decorated. In Warhammer Fantasy, worshippers of Slaanesh are known for their complete lack of fear, as they see losing a battle as a new experience to be enjoyed. In Warhammer 40,000, Slaanesh is served primarily (though not exclusively) by Chaos Space Marines of the Emperor's Children legion. Chaos Space Marines worshipping Slaanesh frequently take to the battlefield wielding unusual sonic weaponry; these warriors are often called Noise Marines. Slaanesh-worshipping Chaos Marines also have the ability to emit piercing shrieks which can disorient their foes, giving an advantage in combat.
Slaanesh is extremely seductive by nature; and has had very important roles in the backstories for both Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000 because of this.
- In Warhammer Fantasy, it was the Cult of Slaanesh which contributed to the corruption of the High Elves who would eventually become the Dark Elves. While most Dark Elves do not worship Slaanesh, the mother of Witch King Malekith, Morathi, was held captive by the Cult of Slaanesh, and it is said that she was corrupted while in captivity; this corruption likely spread to her son. Morathi still rules over the Cult of Slaanesh that remains among the Dark Elves; this cult took part in 2004's Storm of Chaos campaign.
- In Warhammer 40,000, it was the birth of Slaanesh which nearly annihilated the Eldar race and led to the rise of the Imperium; this catastrophic event is known as the Fall of the Eldar. The surviving Eldar factions still live in fear of Slaanesh, who seeks to finish destroying their race; much of the background for the Eldar factions involves this relationship.
The daemons available to Slaanesh's armies, including a brief in-universe description, are:
- Daemonettes are Hermaphroditic feminine-looking creatures whose seductive bodies are at contrast with their crablike claws. In the former editions their features are white, milky skin, bald heads, female breasts (sometimes several sets), narrow eyes, pointed teeth, and occasionally, horns. Their legs end in bird like three-taloned claws, and they may have long scything limbs in place of one or both arms. They are quick, attractive, and fearsome. The more recent editions of Warhammer (both Fantasy and 40K) have seen changes to the Daemonettes; they are now more clearly female, with writhing, tentacle-like hair. Rather than the crablike claws of old, their talons are sickle-shaped, and as a whole, they appear far more attractive and seductive than their previous counterparts, so much so the in both Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000 there are tales of soldiers refusing to fight when they catch a glimpse of their beauty.
- Keepers of Secrets, the hermaphroditic greater daemons of Slaanesh, are huge and powerful creatures whose very presence is capable of bringing the bravest warrior to his knees in anguish and ecstasy. They typically have bovine faces, 1 female breast and four arms: two which end with human-like hands and two which end with large crab-like claws. A Keeper of Secrets is a very powerful foe in close combat.
- Mounts of Slaanesh are fast creatures with elongated tubular snouts (vaguely resembling that of a seahorse) containing prehensile, poisonous tongues and occasionally fangs; they bear a fleshy crest along the upper half of their body, and three or four pairs of breasts. Larger than the steed of Slaanesh, these creatures are ridden by characters.
- Fiends of Slaanesh are hermaphroditic grotesque insect/reptilian looking creatures bearing resemblance to an unholy combination of reptile, scorpion and human.They have 6 breasts in a row, Their barbed tails are poisoned and they exude a musky scent capable of dazing and disorienting foes.
- Steeds of Slaanesh are hermaphroditic bipedal smooth-skinned creatures, similar to a Velociraptor missing the front limbs. They have heads similar to the mount of Slaanesh, though instead of a crest they may have a tentacle-like "mane".
- Thorpe, Gavin; Priestley, Rick; Reynolds, Anthony and Cavatore, Alessio (2002). Warhammer Armies: Hordes of Chaos. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-222-9.
- Thornton, Jake; and McQuirk, Space (2001). Warhammer Armies: High Elves, 2nd Edition, Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-175-3.
- Chambers, Andy; Haines, Pete; Hoare, Andy; Kelly, Phil, and McNeill, Graham (2002). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Chaos Space Marines, 2nd Edition, Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-322-5.
- Priestley, Rick (1994). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Eldar, 2nd Edition, Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-872372-74-0.
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